Coin Connoisseurship

Most beautiful woman on a coin
(Lady Liberty on U.S. Draped Bust dollar)

Ugliest woman on a coin
(Medusa on Ancient Greek Neapolis hemidrachm)




People collect coins for different reasons. For some, the motivation may be filling holes in an album, finding rare varieties, or amassing a huge number of coins. For me, it's the coin's eye appeal. The pinnacle of coin appreciation, in my unopinionated opinion, is the glom. You seize upon an amazing coin with your eyes and stare away. One way to describe this is coin connoisseurship.

On one level, you inspect the physicality of the coin, marveling at the beauty of its design, strike, and state of preservation, following the coin's lines and curves, its raised devices and depressed fields, tilting the coin for different perspectives, watching the light reveal its wonders. On another level, you look through the coin at its background and history, the story it tells about itself, its age, and the people who bought and sold with it, people who may be very much alike you and me in some ways, very much different in other ways.

Like perhaps no other objects, coins have a yin-yangy duality. They pair the commercial with the artistic, the crass with the ethereal, the mundane with the transcendent, the present with the past, the mass produced with the unique. When glomming a beautiful historical coin, the awe can be overpowering. These pieces of monetary metal, through their beauty and history, can transcend mere materialism.

At its highest level, I believe, coin appreciation can be spiritual. Coins aren't different from any other object in this sense. Anything that can focus the concentration can be used in this way, but if the object has transcendent value, as do some coins, it exercises both the spiritual and the intellectual mind.

Coins, anchored in time, can be timeless. Glomming a coin can stop time, which in a psychologically real way, can make you immortal.

Much of the eye appeal of a particular coin type of course is subjective. What follows are Web pages of mine about history's most glomworthy coins, to my eyes, both modern and ancient. World, medieval, and other coins aren't represented below but will be in the future.

The selections below lean heavily toward ancient Greek coins. From perusing images of history's coinage from various sources, I'm not alone in regarding the coins of the ancient Greeks as both the most important and impressive of all time. The Greeks, more than any other people, were responsible for the spread of coinage as an economic and political institution (not to mention democracy and science), and their numismatic output as a whole represents its aesthetic zenith.

Lions: The Oldest Coins

Athenian Owl: The Most Important Coin

Alexander the Great: The Most Powerful Coins

Medusa: The Ugliest Woman on a Coin

Thracian Tets: The Most Abstract Coin

House of Constantine: The Most Historic Coin Series

Draped Busts: The Most Beautiful Woman on a Coin

The Saint: The Most Beautiful Coin




Coin sites:
Coin Collecting: Consumer Protection Guide
Glomming: Coin Connoisseurship
Bogos: Counterfeit Coins

© 2014 Reid Goldsborough

Note: Any of the items illustrated on these pages that are in my possession are stored off site.